Tree roots need porous spaces in the soil to allow for growth and better absorption of water and nutrients. When the soil is compacted, porous spaces are reduced.  This impedes root growth and can lead to root mortality due to low soil oxygen levels.  Plants growing in dense soil are also more prone to drought due to lower water holding capacity resulting from the lack of adequate pore space. 

Soil compaction is considered the biggest constraint of tree growth and is extremely common in urban and suburban environments. Construction is a major culprit when vehicles and equipment are frequently moving near and under trees.  However, even simple foot traffic can result in compaction over time.

When soil is compacted, cultivating that soil is critical to improving growing conditions.  Soil excavation toils that use pressurized air are a great option for tilling around trees to minimize damage to the root system.  These tools can further be used to incorporate soil amendments such as compost or biochar to enhance soil quality and health. 

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